Intel: Innovation on the Edge

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Intel: Innovation on the Edge

Intel Co-Founders: Robert Noyce (left) and Gordon Moore (right)
Intel is a company on the cutting edge from Chapter 4 page 4.10. Intel is the world’s largest computer chip maker, while also producing boards, systems, and software. Their influence includes the personal computer, networking, and the communications industry. In 1968 Gordon Moore and Robert Noyce founded Intel as they pursued to replace magnetic core memory with semiconductor memory1. Originally, their idea seemed impractical because silicon memory was at least 100 times more expensive than magnetic core memory2. However, the advantages of greater performance, reduced energy consumption, and smaller size were convincing. Intel became experts in making it possible to place thousands of tiny electronic devices on a single silicon chip.

Intel’s first success came when Japanese manufacturer Busicom asked for a design of a set of high-performance programmable calculator chips. Instead of multiple chips, Intel engineers designed a single multipurpose chip that used semiconductor memory. Projecting the amazing applications of the chip, Intel needed to purchase the rights of the chip from Busicom in order to reap the benefits for themselves. A struggling Busicom agreed to concede the rights of the chip for only a reimbursement of the $60,000 they had invested in Intel. This seemingly minor business deal allowed Intel to pursue a vision of microprocessor based computing.

In 1970, Intel developed the 1103, which became the most popular semiconductor device a year later. In 1971, Intel developed the first processor, the 4004. The 4004 chip was as small as a thumbnail and as powerful as the first electronic computer, ENIAC3. Though unimpressive today, the 4004 executed 60,000 operations in a single second. Not long after the 4004 was introduced, Intel unveiled the 8008 microcomputer, or microprocessor. This new chip was twice as fast as the 4004. The 8008 microprocessor revolutionized computers, making computer power available to designers of all types of products4. From that point on, Intel has continued to proceed with boundless innovation and creativity.

In 1981, Intel’s microprocessors were at the top of the industry and receiving many accolades. Eventually by teaming up with IBM, Intel’s microprocessor was used to produce the first personal computer, or PC. Intel’s processors kept improving exponentially as the technology improved. However, in order to trade mark and protect their processors, Intel began to name them. Presently, Intel has three main series of microprocessors5:

  • Itanium or Xeon: 1 GHz and up

  • Pentium Series: 600 MHz – 1 GHz

  • Celeron: 600 MHz and up

The Intel Pentium series is the most notable and widely used Intel processors on the market today.

Intel is now looking to improve and design the future of computers. They have named their new initiative “Big Water.” This design will use PCI (Peripheral Component Interconnect) Express technology to accomplish faster data transfer between transfer components6. This will allow future PCs to keep up with faster processor clock speeds, improved graphics, and high-speed LANs7. Another goal of Intel’s “Big Water” projects is to improve the ability of the user to upgrade various PC components more easily. Technically they hope to reduce noise and heat, as well as, produce a more cost-effective power supply. Intel is clearly looking towards the future in all technologies, which is why they remain at the top of the industry.

Once a small company, Intel has grown to over 40 countries and includes greater than 70,000 employees8. Intel continues to search for new frontiers and now looks to tailor their processors to the needs of many different types of consumers, while continuing to develop improved processors leaving others obsolete.

Vocabulary Terms



Name sometimes given to a personal computer processor, because all the functions are on a single chip


Small piece of semi-conducting material, usually no bigger than one-half-inch square, on which integrated circuits are etched.

Clock Speed

Speed at which a processor executes instructions


Backgrounder. Intel. Internet 2002. 27 June 2002. < backgrnd/cn71898a.htm>.

Lemon, Summer. Intel’s ‘Big Water’ means big changes to PCs. Internet 25 April 2002. 27 June 2002. < index.html>.

Shelly, Gary B., Thomas J. Cashman, and Misty E. Vermaat. The Components of the System Unit. Discovering Computers 2002. Shelly Cashman Series 2001. 4.9-4.11.

1 Shelly, Cashman, Vermaat page 4.10

2 Backgrounder

3 Backgrounder

4 Backgrounder

5 Shelly, Cashman, Vermaat page 4.11

6 Lemon

7 Lemon

8 Shelly, Cashman, Vermaat page 4.10


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